Guest Post by Bethany McCullough. Allow me to introduce you to an amazing woman that I’ve been blessed to know for the last 4 years. We worked together on the Marketing Communications team for a great company in Milwaukee. Bethany’s story and tips are truly inspiring; especially for military wives or any spouse that has to deal with distance.
God bless all the military wives out there. Let us remember to pray for each other and provide support along the way. It’s not always an easy road, but God will bring you through it.
Through The Distance
Tips for Surviving a Spouse’s Deployment
“I’m deploying, honey.”
If you’re a military spouse like myself, you know just how painful those three little words can be. Those three little words that instantly change your whole world.
It doesn’t matter how long a deployment is: 3 months, 6 months, a year. When you’re away from the one you love, every single day is a new trial.
But you can get through it. I know it seems unfathomable at first, but I promise you this: you will make it. It won’t be easy. And it won’t be fun. But you’ll survive, and you’ll be stronger than you ever thought you could be.
From one military spouse to another, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way for surviving a deployment:
- Plan your attack. Separation is a challenge, and everyone handles that challenge differently. Before your spouse leaves, sit down and discuss what you need from each other to make this work. How will you communicate? What is realistic? You’ll need to be flexible, as it will often change, but it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page from the start.
- Stay positive. When you finally get a phone call, the first thing you’ll want to say is “I miss you” or “this sucks, can you come home now?” But after a day in a combat zone with stressful encounters, your spouse will be craving positivity. Make him smile. Be supportive. Give him peace of mind that you’re doing OK at home, so he can stay focused on the job he’s been called to do.
- Keep a journal. I’ve never had a diary, but during our deployments my journal was always by my side. It was my therapy. My outlet. I shared exactly what I was thinking, even when I couldn’t bear to say it aloud. I wrote about everything. The good days and the bad days. The fears and the excitement. And most of all, the emotions. Oh, the roller coaster of emotions. I wrote with honesty, raw and uncut. And in a strange way, it kept me grounded, even when the pen in my hand was trembling. I would write it all out, then close the journal, take a deep breath and start anew.
- Be ambitious. Whether you asked for it or not, God has given you a rare opportunity to truly focus on YOU. Deployments are the best time to set ambitious goals and go after them. Run that half-marathon. Pick up the camera and start photographing. Book that crazy cruise trip with your girlfriends. These welcomed distractions will keep you busy and keep you looking forward.
- Love is patient. When there’s a void in your life, you feel it. You never know when it will happen, but sometimes you’ll just feel the hollowness. A song on the radio. An empty chair at the dinner table. A prayer at church. There will be moments that catch you off guard and remind you exactly how real the situation is. Just remember: it’s your love running its course. Be patient, and push on.
- Reward the little joys. Making it through the first week of a deployment is a big deal. Making it through the first month is a really big deal. And when you make it to the half way mark…. it’s time to pull out that bottle of wine and celebrate! Milestones in a deployment – whether big or small – are forever worth celebrating. It gives you an opportunity to look back at how far you’ve come and re-energize you for the road ahead.
- In your weakest moments, pray. When it seems like the world is crumbling around you, lean on the One who is stronger than you. Let yourself fall to your knees, and just talk to God. Tell him your doubts. Let him calm your fears. Cast all your worries on Him. It’s amazing how comforting prayer can be when you realize your strength is found in Him.
- Focus on the light. Even when the tunnel seems unbearably long, never lose sight of the light at the end. You will make it through this deployment. And when you’re back in your spouse’s arms, I promise you it will all be worth it. Everything else will fade away: the fear, the stress, the emptiness – all wiped away. And pure, inexplicable joy will emerge. Revel in this moment. Revel in this love. To this day, my husband’s homecomings are some of the happiest moments of my life.
If you’re facing a deployment soon, just remember this: you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.
God will lift you up and equip you with everything you need to get through the days ahead. He’ll put people in your life to support you and He’ll bless you in the most unexpected ways.
Deployments WILL make you stronger: stronger in faith, and stronger in love.
Bethany McCullough is a freelance marketing copywriter and a proud “milspouse” to Sean, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. They are currently assigned to a base in Northern Virginia. You can follow her on Twitter at @bethanymcc or visit her website at www.bethanymccullough.com.